Tuesday, June 28, 2016

how to safely pass a person riding a bicycle

Momentum Magazine ran a piece with some very useful advice on how to safely pass a person riding a bicycle.

If you drive, please take a few minutes to read it and use these suggestions in your everyday driving.  You could save a life.

Photo by Richard Masoner - linked to article
Most states have a law requiring drivers to leave at least 3 feet of clear space between their vehicle and cyclists they are passing.  When drivers routinely fail to do this, it's a big reason for cyclists taking to the sidewalk (not legal in Chicago over age 12 - for pedestrian safety).

When necessary, cyclists are legally allowed to take the full lane.  There are times when it is necessary for their safety, especially when they are passing parked cars and it isn't always clear if or when a car door might open into the cyclist's path of travel.  Drivers are required to look before opening car doors and NOT open them until it is safe for them to do so.

Here's a CDOT flyer with more helpful info.  Let's work together to make our streets safer for everyone to get around.

Monday, June 27, 2016

new business in Morgan Park opening 7/2

Update: here's some news on their grand opening this Saturday 7/2.


I've heard about a new business opening soon near the 111th St. Metra station. I'm looking forward to trying Laine's Bake Shop. It sounds like a great excuse for a bike ride.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

how reckless driving affects pedestrian and cyclist behavior

In my travels around the neighborhood, I’ve observed what I've seen others do and what I find myself doing in response to reckless driving.

In the 19th ward and elsewhere in the city, traffic enforcement is disappointingly rare. Bad driver behavior has become so brazen in the absence of traffic stops that many drivers seem to be in a contest to see how much they can get away with.

Drivers who don't stop or barely slow down at intersections are too common. They may not allow enough time for pedestrians and cyclists to react, forcing us to stop suddenly or change course to avoid being hit in situations where we have the right of way.

At intersections along 95th St., turning drivers often don't watch for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Many drivers fail to stop at 4-way stops on 96th. In locations such as the 9500 blocks of Damen and Longwood or intersections along 96th St., crossing in the middle of the block can be much safer, because a pedestrian has more advance warning of an approaching car.  I often find myself crossing at mid block and see others doing it, because drivers are roaring up to intersections so fast that we do not trust them to avoid hitting us when we are in the crosswalk.

I’ve noticed an increase in the number of adults riding bikes on sidewalks, coinciding with the increase in speeding and failure to yield. It seems that the percentage of adult bike traffic on Longwood on the sidewalk is much higher now compared to 10 years ago.

If I'm riding my bike and stop at the 4-way stop in front of my house, then attempt to ride into our mid-block driveway (E-W street), I often have near misses due to drivers coming out of the alley without slowing down or driving fast after turning at adjacent intersections. In most situations I would not ride on the sidewalk (illegal in Chicago for cyclists over age 12). I make an exception here because pedestrian traffic is minimal and I'd prefer not to end my ride with a trip to the hospital.

Here's another perspective on ped safety and crossing at crosswalks vs. other locations.

Safer walking and biking conditions encourage more walking and biking to local destinations.  Benefits for our neighborhoods include less stress, better health, reduced traffic congestion, fewer crashes and injuries, more people going to local businesses, and less parking needed to service those businesses.  The net result: more money staying in our community because people can get to local businesses safely.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

did your bike get stolen or is it at risk?

I was talking to a friend who said his bike was stolen from 91st St. Metra station while he was at work.  He confessed that he was only using a cable lock.  I often see this at Metra stations around the neighborhood.

Unfortunately bike theft is a growing problem, even in neighborhoods like ours that are perceived as safe.

It's worth taking a minute to report the theft to police. Even if your bike is not recovered, having data to identify patterns can sometimes result in identification and arrest of the thief down the line.

The Chicago Stolen Bike Registry is a valuable resource - and it's free.  It is maintained by a group of volunteers who are fellow cyclists and viewable by anyone.  Many people in the Chicago area check it, including folks accepting bikes for service at local bike shops.  Use of this database has resulted in the recovery of a number of stolen bikes in recent years.

Bike Index is a free national resource.  It's also worth using.  If you report the theft on all 3, it might take you 10-15 minutes.  It provides useful data. It could help in recovering your bike.

The best thing is to take a few precautions to prevent theft.

1. Cable locks really aren't secure. If that's your only lock, anyone with a bolt cutter can snip it in a few seconds and your bike is gone.

2. If only your frame is locked to the rack, your wheels are fair game. They might be gone when you get back.  Your best bet is to secure both wheels. At the very least, use a U-lock to lock the frame and one wheel and use a heavy cable to connect the other wheel with the lock. If you can take off your front wheel and lock it to the frame, rack and rear wheel, that's a good locking method.

On the closer bike, only the frame is locked to the rack, leaving both wheels
vulnerable. On the second bike, one wheel is secure.
Front wheel and frame are locked to the rack. Rear wheel is locked to the frame.
We have been fortunate that bike theft has not been a major problem in Beverly and Morgan Park, but it has significantly increased in recent years. Several people I know have had bikes stolen here in the last 2 years.

You can find more useful tips here, including a link to register your bike with the Chicago Police Dept.

Friday, June 17, 2016

median TLC needed on 95th St.

The planted medians on 95th St. and other major streets help in making the streets more pleasant and attractive. However, they do need some maintenance.

95th at Hoyne looking west - tough to see oncoming traffic
95th at Wood by the Metra station, looking west
95th at Pleasant, looking east
Not as bad as the others, but removing one or two branches would help.
Just a few low-growing tree branches make a critical difference in being able to cross the street safely.  During the growing season, these branches obscure the view of oncoming traffic, making it difficult to see approaching vehicles until they are very close.  

Over the past 2 years, I've tried 311 calls, emails to the 95th St. business association and the alderman's office. No trimming has been done.

This isn't rocket science. If people don't feel safe crossing the street, they're less likely to do it. This costs our neighborhood businesses - and ultimately us - if our businesses don't last because they don't get enough traffic.  It's also better for the farmers market if people feel safer crossing the street. I hope that someone in this ward can figure out a way to finally get this done - this summer.

It would be even better if we could get Yield to Pedestrians signs at a few of these median crossings, especially at Hoyne.

non sequitur Friday

Thursday, June 16, 2016

habitat restoration workday at Whistler Woods Fri. 6/17

It's great to get outdoors. Volunteers are needed this Friday 6/17 from 10 am to noon for a habitat restoration workday. Tomorrow's task is planting native plants.

Hiking boots or other boots or shoes that offer good support and traction are a good idea. When you arrive, look for volunteers along the lefthand side of the main parking lot, near the end of the parking lot. If you have work gloves, bring them, otherwise gloves will be available.  

How to get there:   Whistler Woods is just east of 13400 S Halsted in Riverdale.

By bike: if you're coming from the north, ride the Major Taylor Trail south until it ends in Whistler Woods and continue to the parking lot to find the volunteers.

By car: take Halsted to Forestview (13400S) - parking lot is the first left turn after you turn east onto Forestview.

From I-57, exit at eastbound 127th, then turn right on Halsted, then continue to 13400S and follow the directions above.

From I-94, exit at westbound 130th.  Continue past the viaduct, right (northbound) on Indiana, then continue left on 127th to Halsted. Continue to 13400S and follow the directions above.

By transit:  Pace 352 Halsted bus

Questions? Call Chris, 773-746-5223. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

breakfast or lunch at 95th St. farmers market

Did you know that the 95th St. farmers market now has a crepe stand AND a taco stand? You could have breakfast or lunch, a cup of fresh coffee and shop for fruits, veggies, jams, jellies, honey, bread, cookies, coffee beans, cheese, plants, handmade crafts and other goodies.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Friends of the Major Taylor Trail meeting on Wed. 6/15

Friends of the Major Taylor Trail will meet on Wed. 6/15 at Ridge Park fieldhouse (1817 W 96th St.), 6:30 to 8:00 pm.

For those who aren't familiar with our group and what we do, we are a non-profit advocacy group working to improve and maintain the Major Taylor Trail and promote its use. We have an active working relationship with the Chicago Park District, Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Openlands and other non-profits and government agencies. We organize volunteer workdays, bike rides and other events.

We'd love to have your ideas and help with future events and projects. Please join us! Everyone is welcome.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Dan Ryan Woods workday Sat. 6/11

Join Friends of the Forest Preserves at Dan Ryan Woods this Saturday, June 11 from 9:00 am-noon for their monthly volunteer workday. Tools, gloves, and training provided. Wearing boots or sneakers is recommended, as conditions may be muddy.

Meet at the Dan Ryan Woods East parking lot (2 blocks west of Damen on the north side of 87th Street).  Please contact Benjamin Cox at 773-398-1178 or benjamin@fotfp.org for more information.

Monday, June 6, 2016

early morning courtesy

A friend in East Beverly has mentioned that an early morning (~5 a.m.) group of bike commuters has VERY LOUD conversations when riding past his house. While he's happy to see people bike commuting at any hour, the loudness isn't particularly welcome.

I could say the same of early morning walking and running groups that pass my house in central Beverly. There are a few that pass before 7 a.m. and are often loud.

When you're out and about at times when it's usually very quiet, remember that plenty of people can hear you if you aren't quiet.  You might even be waking people up. A little courtesy goes a long way.

planting a seed

Congrats to Kellogg School on having such a great start to their veggie garden. I hope it's a successful growing season, both for the garden and for building community.